SPEISEKINO and 10th Berlin Biennale // Intermittent dystopias

Hosted by Felipe Teram

In 1956, Brazilian president Juscelino Kubitschek commissioned architect Oscar Niemeyer and urban planner Lúcio Costa to design an entire new capital for the country. Building a seat of government in its hinterland, in an unprecedent size and complexity, would display the country’s ability to perform collective feats and move towards a desired modernity. Brasília was more of a vision for the future than a need imposed by the present.

Forma Livre (2013) by Clara Ianni exploits disregarded stories to investigate the establishment of dominant discourses, the emergence of counternarratives, and historicity itself. The video installation overlays pictures of Brasília’s construction site with excerpts from a recorded interview with Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa, in which both are called upon to comment and acknowledge the slaughter of one hundred local workers killed by the state police after a strike.

In Era uma vez Brasília (2017), the Brazilian capital becomes the setting for a dystopian present. The sci-fi feature film directed by Adirley Queirós tells the story of an intergalactic agent named WA4, who receives an order to kill President Juscelino Kubitschek on the day of Brasília’s inauguration in 1960. Due to a technical issue with his spaceship, the hitman lands on the outskirts of the city in the year 2016—on the eve of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment process. Ordered to terrorize a country celebrating the inauguration of its capital, WA4 encounters a city in the middle of a political battle in the realm of realpolitik. Such circumstances lead him to repurpose and rethink his failed mission.

As a symbol of the contradictions of modernity, Brasília sets the stage for a conversation on narratives deliberately neglected in favor of a promised bright future, thereby exposing present adversities and the fantasies of our past.